The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Largest fab tool regions; fastest growing IC markets; more personal devices.

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In 2015, Korea outspent all other countries ($9 billion) on front-end semiconductor fab equipment, according to SEMI. But Korea is expected to drop to second place in 2016, as Taiwan takes over with the largest CapEx spending at $8.3 billion, according to SEMI. In 2015, Americas ranked third in overall regional CapEx spending with about $5.6 billion and is forecast to increase only slightly to 5.1% in 2016.

What are the largest and fastest growing markets for chips? IC Insights released its projected growth rates of nine major system segments. Cellphones remain the largest segment, followed by PCs, according to the firm. The Internet of Things (IoT) system market is forecast to show the highest average annual growth rate (21%) through 2019. But the standard PC, tablet and game console system markets are forecast to decline through 2019.

During the next five years, consumers will add more devices to their personal portfolio rather than consolidating it, according to Gartner. “Gartner expects mature market users to use three to four personal devices from a mix of ‘main’ and ‘niche’ devices,” according to the firm. “Main devices will include smartphones, tablets, convertibles (two-in-one devices) and notebooks, and will contribute to more than two devices per person at any time. Niche devices will include a growing range of wearables such as smart watches, health bands, smart glasses and new types of connected devices such as smart cards, e-readers and portable cameras.”

Samsung Electronics announced that Hewlett-Packard (HP) has selected its AutoCache host-based caching software to be made available to end users as an add-on to HP’s Generation 9 server family.

Applied Materials announced that its board has approved a quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per share payable on the company’s common stock. The dividend is payable on March 17, 2016 to stockholders of record as of Feb. 25, 2016.

Surprise! There is more M&A activity related to China. Taiwan OSAT vendor ChipMOS has signed a share purchase agreement to sell 299,252,000 common shares to China’s Tsinghua Unigroup at a price of NT$40.0 per share. Under the terms, Tsinghua would have a 25% stake in ChipMOS. In November, Tsinghua Unigroup has invested $600 million for a 25% stake in Powertech, another Taiwan OSAT.

On Semiconductor recently made a bid to acquire Fairchild Semiconductor International. This week, Fairchild acknowledged receipt of an unsolicited proposal to acquire the company from China Resources Holdings, according to reports. Meanwhile, U.S.-based memory maker Integrated Silicon Solution Inc. (ISSI) announced that its previously-announced acquisition by China’s Uphill Investment Co. has been completed.

DuPont and Dow Chemical Company have approved a definitive agreement under which the companies will combine in an all-stock merger of equals. The combined company will be named DowDuPont. Meanwhile, the Dow Chemical announced the signing of definitive agreements to restructure the ownership of Dow Corning Corp. Under the terms of the agreement, Dow will become the 100% owner of Dow Corning, currently a 50:50 joint venture between Dow and Corning. Dow and Corning will maintain their current equity stake in Hemlock Semiconductor Group.